Is it the next big thing?

Posts tagged ‘personal development’

Is the term Parental Leave in need of a rebrand?

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One of the key challenges employers face in business is when valued employees take what is currently referred to as “time out” or “parental leave” from their professional career. In many cases it’s treated as a “taboo” with most being conscious of having a gap on their CV that may be viewed as a career break and is almost never discussed in a business context. Yet going on a course to develop our skills is seen as a great move, something which is highly valued by employees and employers alike.

Let’s turn this on its head!

Amongst the top reasons why parenting is so challenging, tiring and fulfilling are the fact that it’s constant and involves learning and immediately applying new skills (many of which you may not consider your strength (in a business context)) “on the job”. Imagine that, your company sends you on a sales course that is never going to end, there is no break from it, you can’t prepare, delegate or fast track. Irrespective of how well you take to it, your new skills will inform the development of new life coming into the world and as such will have consequences for you to deal with. A scary thought.

Yes, there are the obvious “time management”, “patience” and “productivity” skills, which are developed as a necessary requirement of Parenting, but we could all do with honing these irrespective of our specialism. What about the other areas that not everyone considers to be their strength? and in a professional environment some would run a mile from, but in developing as a parent you have no choice but to learn and apply, like:

Sales – skills required on a daily basis to parent a child from the age of 1-2 years old. What are the closing techniques that will successfully persuade your toddler (or older) to choose to process all of the functions that enable them to independently eat their meal, for example, or let you put on their coat, or co-operate in any way?

Performance Management – skills required on a daily basis to parent a child from the age of about 3 years old. What are the key performance indicators of a three year old? How will you measure them and what actions are you looking for as an indication that a reward is due to be awarded or revoked. What method will you use to communicate this and how will you ensure your child understands and is motivated by this process?

Conflict Management – required to parent children from the age of about 2-3 years old. How will you resolve and help your child to resolve conflict with another? How will you deliver news to your child that they don’t want to hear in a constructive way?

Supplier Management – which supplier will you select for your child’s education/ other skills development? What criteria will you use to select and how will you monitor whether it is being successfully delivered? What action will you take if it isn’t being delivered?

Add to that an array of other skills, like Networking, Leading, Events Management, Catering, Confidence Coach, the list goes on. (We can see why parenting is so challenging and indeed why many view going back to work as a break! That way we only need to focus on the skills we feel more comfortable with and consider ourselves successful in!)

Why are we not harnessing this phase of self-development more in the workplace?

Parenting could be viewed as a way of learning and developing ourselves, but most don’t view it in this way.  Instead, the application of new skills is simply viewed as a necessary part of getting things done and swept under the carpet by all, as generic “parenting challenges” that make us so tired.

But is everyone actually missing a trick? Could raising awareness of the learning and development experienced by parents be harnessed more by companies? What if companies decided to change how it’s viewed as part of recruitment and learning and development processes?

 Is the term “Parental Leave” in need of a rebrand?

What if the language around parenting was to change?

What if instead of “parental leave” businesses decided to offer a “parenting skills development” sabbatical and use the “keep in touch” days as an opportunity to review how to apply parenting skills in their profession?

What if, for candidates that are also parents, a portion of their CV and interview process were to be spent exploring rather than avoiding their parenting experience and reflecting on how it has ADDED TO their portfolio of skills in the workplace? Would a different, more respected approach from society create an energy shift that would fill us up rather than drain us of confidence and energy?

Would a rebrand like this, along with an accessible portfolio of truly part-time (3-day a week) working strategies like Jobsharing, reduce key recruitment and diversity challenges?  It’s certainly food for thought.  Perhaps you know of organisations that have already turned it on its head? I’d love to hear your views.

If you’d like to find out more about successful family friendly strategies and support for those who choose parenting and career, please check out http://www.ginibee.com

Jobshare Top Tip #5: Practice Humility

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Often in today’s workplace, being humble can be seen as a weakness when in fact, entirely the opposite is true and crucial to success as a Jobsharer. Being aware of our limitations, accepting imperfections and recognising our potential when combined with another is an incredible strength! It takes courage to talk through our “mistakes” but only through creating this type of dialogue with a Jobshare (or any) partner can you create a truly fulfilling experience.

There’s no room for ego

Practicing humility as a Jobsharer requires a shift in perspective. Respect and commitment of successful Jobsharers is focussed on doing what’s best for the role (and inherently, the Partnership), as opposed to themselves as individuals.

“Any successes we had were not personal, they were as a result of the Jobshare” (Maggy Pigott CBE, a Jobsharer of 23 years with the Civil Service, 5 of which were at CEO level)

There really is no room for ego, if a task is done well, it doesn’t matter which Jobsharer does the presentation/ takes the call /is present at the meeting, what’s important is that the organisation experiences success as a result of the Partnership working together. Practicing humility through a consultative approach in the interest of the Jobshare not only enables the Partnership (and associated lifestyle) to thrive, it increases productivity and enables the Partnership to make more innovative, brave and strong decisions quickly, because there’s another to consult, to bounce ideas off and to rationalise with.

“It’s wonderful having another half who has exactly the same knowledge of the job as you do, and also exactly the same interest in making that Job a success” (Maggy Pigott CBE)

Of course sharing in the successes of the Jobshare also mean sharing in the mistakes and this leads me to a second important advantage of practicing humility.

Always Present a United Front

Practicing Humility in the interest of successful Jobsharing means developing and presenting a united front irrespective of differences. When differences in approach inevitably emerge it’s crucial to have a strategy for containing and resolving these within the Partnership because commitment to being consistent to everyone outside of the Partnership; colleagues, team, manager, clients, suppliers, is crucial for the development of Trust.

Experienced Jobsharers say that when a difference leads to a disagreement, it’s almost always due to incomplete communication. By engaging in dialogue as opposed to debate when differences emerge, each has the opportunity to explain fully their rationale and challenge with reason. Through approaching this process constructively, a shared way forward can be established and importantly the opportunity to respect and get on board with what’s best for the Partnership to deliver.

Another key success factor is summarised neatly in this salient point made by Maggy Pigott as she reflected on habits that led to the long-term success of their 23 year partnership:

“we always adopted the rule it a rule to never unpick anything the other had done, we would always move forward, even if we would have perhaps dealt with it slightly differently ourselves”

Food for thought

We only need to look at crucial leadership traits to discover how core Jobsharing skills like self-awareness and acceptance, communication and humility can translate into developing successful leaders. In a recent survey by Catalyst Research (which I discovered in the Harvard Business Review), leaders with increased self-awareness and a greater focus on relationships achieve greater commitment and performance from their teams.  So whilst these skills are required and developed through Jobsharing, they are also important characteristics of future leaders.  If you’d like to find out more about Jobsharing and how it could work for you or your organisation, please contact us at www.ginibee.com/contact-us.html

Jobshare Top Tip #4: Act With Integrity

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In last month’s post, I covered the importance of a Jobsharer “deciding to trust” in order for a partnership to thrive. What’s interesting and scary at the same time about this decision, is the condition of having to offer the trust first in order to test the partnership, because taking this leap with someone you don’t necessarily know, is a tricky decision for most of us. This month I’m going to delve further into what makes us able to take this leap of faith and importantly, how we can learn to build trust.

Start With Self-Trust
If you remember my first post on successful Jobsharing, I stressed the importance of taking time to “Know Yourself”, because to create an effective partnership you need to first understand who’s coming into it. The same principle applies to trust. To trust anyone else, first you have to ask yourself honestly “do I trust myself? Am I someone others can trust?” What I’m saying here is the process of building trust with a Jobshare partner, starts even before your very first encounter, it’s with yourself. But it’s not just about words, we can all say “yes I trust myself” but is your behaviour reflective? As Covey quotes:

 “Trust is achieved through action”…. (not words)

Self-trust starts with the small things and to give an example, this year after reading Covey’s book I decided to take a leaf out of it and here’s what I did. Until a few weeks ago, I would always set my alarm before going to bed knowing full well I was going to snooze it in the morning several times before I would actually get out of bed. What’s the point in that? Essentially, I was starting every day by breaking a promise to myself – a behaviour congruent with self-trust would be to set the alarm for 15 minutes later, allow myself the snooze and commit to getting up on the first alarm. So, that’s what I did. I decided to take the small but also significant step of promising myself every night that I would get up when the alarm goes off.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
The fact is, we all judge others by our own standards, because what other benchmark do we have? But if we can’t make and keep commitments to ourselves, it will subconsciously affect our ability to trust others. So if you’re concerned about how you could trust someone else, start with yourself, make and keep a promise to yourself from today, and stick with it. The small things DO count.

Taking this to the next level of “Relationship Trust” involves the same rules. Exploring a potential Jobsharer’s competence may involve a lot of words about experience and motivations. This is all great, but as Covey says

 “what you do has far greater impact than anything you say” (Covey p128)

To act with integrity is vital; talk straight, demonstrate respect, know that little things have a disproportionate impact when building trust. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep and communicate, communicate, communicate; if you say you’ll get back to someone that day, keep to your promise even if it’s to say you can’t meet the deadline. Things you may feel are unimportant are likely to be exactly the opposite when it comes to building trust.  A great read to explore this subject further is Stephen Covey’s book “Speed of Trust”.

 If you’d like to find out more about Jobsharing, how to create a successful partnership or how it could benefit you or your organisation, you can register at http://www.ginibee.com/contact-us or contact me at info@ginibee.com

Jobsharing Top Tip #3: Trust Your Partner

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In my blog post earlier this year I wrote about the importance of Trust in achieving speed in business which feeds into productivity, effectiveness and cost. This is the third trait when it comes to successful Jobsharing, not only in terms of creating a functional partnership but also in realising the advantages of Jobsharing both on a personal and an organisational level.

A common concern is “how can I trust that someone else will do as good a job as I will?”, “how can I trust someone I don’t really know?”. Having Jobshared successfully and unsuccessfully I have experience of this and how it can break down, so I reflected on my own experience and also the experiences of senior level Jobsharers I have come across in my research. To help portray the mindset and successful habits that support this characteristic, I’m going to share with you three crucial quotes I have come across in my research.

It’s a Conscious Decision

“You have to just decide to trust the person because if you don’t it’s just not going to work. It’s a bit like jumping into a swimming pool and you hope it’s full of water, if it’s not going to work you need to know fast” (Polly Payne & Ruth Hannant, Directors of Strategy at Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

This is the underlying mindset of a successful Jobshare partner, also demonstrating the simplicity of the change that needs to happen for Jobsharing to become mainstream; away from suspicion and doubt and towards trust. It’s a conscious decision to trust from the outset made by the Jobsharer and one that won’t be without risk, but will be an informed decision based on whether the benefits outweigh the perceived risk.

Give yourself permission to trust another at work so you can have the work life balance that you need. Only then, will you be able to truly benefit from the Jobshare; your days off really will be days off, you will develop a shared approach and communicate more effectively, you will learn from each other, you will deal will difference constructively.

Demonstrate Trust

Another important quote came from senior level Jobsharer Deborah Bronnert:

“Always be available to your Jobshare partner on your non-working days, never be available to anyone else” (Deborah Bronnert, COO at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and previous Jobsharer)

This is a crucial habit to get into right from the start and certainly one which I believe contributed to the breakdown of my previous work partnership. Ensure a full and complete handover and then trust your partner to deal effectively with any and all outstanding or related actions or conversations. If you take over responsibility on your non-working days, this can be extremely damaging not only for demonstrating and acting with trust towards your partner, but also in terms of setting the precedent for taking the time that this work practice creates for you to focus on other things.

 “Any big decision on one of the other’s days that we haven’t talked about before we will always ring each other. We wouldn’t make a decision that changed the direction of something without consulting the other person” (Polly Payne & Ruth Hannant, Directors of Strategy at Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

This demonstrates the crucial trust and respect needed for a Jobshare arrangement to work, being available for a short consultation phonecall from your Jobshare partner, at your convenience on your non-working day, is very different from opening up a direct line of contact to another work colleague. When working a high profile, senior level role and spending spend quality time on things outside of work is no longer mutually exclusive, being available occasionally to your jobshare partner is not a chore but simply an enabler to this lifestyle.

 

How Can You Help?

If you are interested in learning more about how Jobsharing could help you or your organisation please contact sara.horsfall@ginibee.com or register at www.ginibee.com . If you’d like to help improve our understanding and awareness of perceptions about Jobsharing please take some time to complete this short survey at bit.ly/ginibee_survey

In my next blog I’ll be talking about Acting with Integrity, the next successful habit of a Jobsharer.

 

The World Of Work Is Changing

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The world of work is changing; as of the 30th June 2014 everyone has the right to request flexible working, so it’s no longer restricted to parents and carers. This is a strong acknowledgement by the UK government that the world of work is changing, we all have different life priorities and are limited by one mainstream working model (40+ hour full-time), which means our career consumes the majority of our attention during the week.  Current limitations surrounding career and work life balance and part-time career progression has led to startling statistics, such as:

• Stress and anxiety cost the UK government £15 billion each year and 35% of that is due to anxiety and depression.
• 57% of UK employees say their personal lives are affected because they spend too much time at work.
• 1/3 of organisations experience employee burnout
• Presenteeism is an issue, this is where people turn up to work because they believe being seen to be working is more important than being productive at work.

If you’d like to raise awareness in your organisation of these trends and how they can respond, you can use this infographic.

It’s great news that the government is creating a framework to enable flexible working, but it’s now up to individuals and organisations to make it work for us.

Jobsharing is the only flexible working solution which offers the opportunity and responsibility of a full-time career on part-time hours, without compromising on continuity. However, to achieve this win-win, it’s important:

  1.  that the hiring manager understands how to effectively manage a Jobshare
  2. that the Jobshare is well matched and tested
  3. have their plan in place so that they are ready to hit the ground running.

Jobsharing is different to other forms of flexible working, in that successful Jobsharing develops a number of skills. Apart from a heightened self-awareness, successful Jobsharers engage in an ongoing process of communication, compromise, creating shared identity, commitment, trust and working through difference. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts about Jobsharing and Leadership, these essential leadership skills are developed “on the job” during a Jobshare, so it’s great personal development, but the set up process in terms of matching partnerships and setting their expectations of how to successfully Jobshare is essential.

The status quo of Jobsharing is that matches are made based on two people wanting to work a role part-time, often the Jobsharers have sought the partner themselves as they have been lucky enough to know someone in their department who shares the same motivations and skill sets. This is a highly risky strategy and as a result can yield both positive and negative experiences of Jobsharing. There is no doubt however, that the successful Jobshare partnerships such as those published in case studies by Deloitte, Eversheds, Lloyds, Unilever, have in common best practices which can be used to prepare Jobshare partnerships for success.

Over the next 5 posts, I’ll be sharing top tips of successful Jobsharing, which I have created based on my own experience as well as my experience researching, analysing and working with both successful and unsuccessful Jobshare partnerships.

If you are unemployed or work full-time but would like to reduce your hours, take control and join Ginibee’s Jobshare Network at http://www.ginibee.com. If you’re already a member of the network then you can attend one of the first Jobshare Accelerator Workshops that will take place in September, by registering at http://bit.ly/Ginibeews1

It’s All About Trust

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Trust is at a two year low across UK organisations according to the CIPD Employee Outlook survey for Spring 2014.  What does this mean?

According to Stephen Covey, it means reduced speed and increased cost of business, which makes perfect sense to me.  Let’s see, in high trust organisations, employees are empowered to make decisions and so business moves forward quickly and efficiently.  In low trust organisations, endless sign off procedures to authorise even the most minor business decision mean something like due diligence for example, can take several months and cost businesses millions.  Is it just me or does it seem rather ironic that one of the main contributors to reducing trust (and therefore increasing cost) can be a redundancy programme?!  Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the Germans book and consider work sharing or even better, Jobsharing as a more effective way of increasing productivity and building trust whilst streamlining costs?.

Developing trust from an early stage is a key trait to master and live as part of a Jobshare lifestyle and indeed as an effective leader. The benefit of this is much wider of course, as once you become aware of how trust links to behaviour and intentions, you will be able to make better sense of other types of relationships personally and professionally. Last weekend whilst on a course, someone suggested to me that being amongst the last people to leave was a sign of commitment, this is a huge and typical assumption that “face time” equals commitment.  What wasn’t known was the motivations of others, what they wanted to get out of each day, what other priorities they had in their life, what they were leaving to do and so huge assumptions had been made based on an individuals interpretation of behaviour.  Perhaps this type of assumption is the kind of lack of understanding that has led to organisational issues like Presenteeism.

My interest in this is linked to my research into how partnerships can be effectively matched as part of a Jobshare arrangement, I’ve looked into different types of psychometric tests all of which review our behaviour in different circumstances.  However, since our behaviour is simply our execution of intentions, or motivations, perhaps when building trust across partnerships, we should begin by raising awareness and articulating our motivations.  By sharing our motivations, we can more effectively interpret the behaviours of others and make judgements based on our understanding of their motivations rather than our perception of their behaviour; a good habit to get into in any relationship.

So where can you start? Self awareness is key, ask yourself do you know what your work motivations and intentions are? Do you articulate them to others? The key to building trust is to behave with integrity, be consistent with your motivations, keep your promises to yourself and to others.  Even something as simple as when you receive an e-mail or a phone message do you respond straight away or within a specific time frame? Do you set expectations and meet them?.  Fostering trust is all about the detail, If you can’t keep a promise, then don’t make it, because it’s the day to day behaviours that we may consider irrelevant, that lead to success or failure where building trust in relationships is concerned.

In my next post I will be talking about the top tips for successful Jobsharing.  If you are interested in Job sharing as a way of continuing part-time with your career so you can have more time with your family, or with your studies or other interests, you can join the Jobshare Network at Ginibee today for free at www.ginibee.com

Jobsharing and Leadership, in Harmony

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Since finding out that Communication and Humility are the top two traits of effective leaders (TLNT 2013), I have been wondering how much companies spend on “team building” and leadership development.  In my research, I have come across a couple of key stats; first that the UK “corporate hospitality” industry (which incorporates team building) is worth £1.5 billion (Fresh Business Thinking; January 2013) and second that in the US, companies are spending an average of $706 per learner on team building (TLNT 2013).

Add to this the result of a survey by Vodafone and YouGov, which suggests workers feel that organized team building activities can be a complete waste of time (Vodafone 2013) and another article, that claims workers would much prefer to be able to communicate with each other better at work than be forced to build rapport with co-workers by sharing “adrenaline” experiences or “trust” exercises (telegraph Feb 2012).

Combining the evidence I have come across so far, it appears that organisations are spending a lot of money on programmes which aren’t considered effective by their audience.  Surely, there has to be a more effective solution for businesses investing in developing their leaders. Something which challenges employees to improve communication, a new challenge which still focuses on their day to day role.

My research into Jobsharing so far, has uncovered that far from creating new challenges within organisations, Jobsharing simply brings to the surface issues inherent within all organisations, and indeed in personal relationships.  A successful Jobshare tests effective communication, organisation, and importantly, humility; the ability to learn from another and take on board the ideas of others to come up with a way forward together.  All of which are crucial traits of effective leaders.

Perhaps therefore, a period of “required jobsharing” would be an effective addition to a leadership development programme?  This could be with someone in a different department, someone phasing into retirement, or new skills being brought into an organisation part-time as a Jobshare.  Importantly, Jobsharing doesn’t have to be restricted to part-time, personally, I have experience of working a Jobshare full-time and part-time.  Incorporating Required Jobsharing into Leadership development would be a development opportunity for both full-time and part-time candidates.

Imagine a workplace where flexible working and leadership development were harmoniously supported. Bingo!

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